A new allocation of funding in Ohio’s new state operating budget will fuel a significant expansion of the Health IT in the CLE (HIT in the CLE) Community Classroom, which provides after school computer and data science instruction to students within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and first-ring suburban schools who do not have access to relevant coursework.

HIT in the CLE successfully piloted the Community Classroom program one day a week during the 2018-19 academic year. This new funding will allow it to be held daily during the upcoming 2019-20 school year for CMSD and first-ring suburban students whose schools do not offer computer science or data science classes. The HIT in the CLE Community Classroom is held at the BioEnterprise Incubator in University Circle.

“This allocation of new funds for the HIT in the CLE Community Classroom will allow us to make an even greater impact on the lives of Cleveland students by providing them with access to computer and data science instruction they would not otherwise have,” says Grady Burrows, BioEnterprise’s Director of Health IT Talent, who leads the HIT in the CLE initiative. “Not only does it expose students to new potential career paths, but it also helps fuel the pipeline of diverse IT talent that is critically needed by Northeast Ohio’s tech companies.”

The Community Classroom leverages a curriculum developed by Hyland Software, with hardware provided by the Cleveland Foundation. Classes will begin in the fall of 2019. During the 2018-2019 pilot program, more than 15 students took part in the program from such schools as Ginn Academy, East Tech High School and Jane Addams Business Careers Center.

“The Community Classroom was a game changer for my students that participated this past year,” says Damon Holmes, principal of Ginn Academy. “I was able to get my students exposure and education in skills that are highly valued in our 21st century economy. Their participation in the Community Classroom and the HIT in the CLE Data Science Competition has helped to expose them to a world of opportunities that was completely foreign to them before.”

Relevant secondary computer science instruction is significantly lacking across our region, with only 50% of schools offering the type of classes that will help students be successful after leaving high school. Software developers and data scientists are among the most in-demand job categories in Northeast Ohio. In fact, there’s nearly double the demand for computer and IT workers than there are job candidates with the necessary credentials. What’s more, starting salaries range from $60,000 to $70,000 for workers with an undergraduate degree, and the number of entry-level candidates falls short of demand by nearly 60%.

“What we hear from Northeast Ohio health IT firms is that access to talent is one of the most important elements of their growth plans,” says Aram Nerpouni, BioEnterprise’s president and CEO. “The HIT in the CLE initiative helps to build and diversify the future workforce and keep tech talent here in Northeast Ohio.”

HIT in the CLE is led by BioEnterprise in partnership with the Northeast Ohio Health IT Collaborative. It is also supported by the Cleveland Foundation and the State of Ohio.